Home Improvement Tips

As Spring gets under way, many of us will be inspired to tackle some home improvement projects! 

For those home owners in areas where the winter months have brought an abundance of snow, ice and rain, as we have definitely experienced in Lake Tahoe this past season, one may want to focus their attention to the exterior of their home.  Maintaining a home on a regular basis can save you a lot of money in deferred maintenance costs.  By staining decks, touching up exterior paint, replacing roof shingles, tightening gutters, inspecting heat tape and sealing the driveway on a yearly basis you may be able to defer replacement costs for some higher ticket items.

If you are thinking of selling, it’s especially critical that a Buyer see that your home has been cared for on a consistent basis. Once a Buyer sees that a home has been obviously neglected or has deferred maintenance, they can’t help but wonder what else may be wrong, especially in less obvious/accessible areas like the attic and crawl space.

To give yourself added peace of mind in these unseen areas, be sure to get a pest-termite inspection/home inspection every so often.  The inspector will look in less noticeable areas like the crawl space and attic for things like carpenter ants, fungus, cellulose debris, plumbing leaks and termites.  The sooner you can correct these items, the more manageable future repairs many be.

Before tackling these tasks, we may want to take into consideration some of these helpful hints from  Bill and Kevin Burnett of Inman News™

10 rules for power tools

1. Inspect your tools before use. Inspect especially for frayed power cords and cracked or broken casings. If the tool is damaged, have it repaired by a qualified technician or toss it.

2. Follow instructions, not intuition. Maintain and use power tools in accordance with the manufacturer’s warnings, precautions and instructions.

3. Check the switch on power tools and garden appliances to make sure it’s in the off position before you plug it in.

4. Keep your tools in shape. Don’t carry tools by the cord and never yank the cord when removing it from an outlet. When disconnecting the cord, always grasp the plug, not the wire. Keep the cord away from heat, oil and sharp edges.

5. When necessary, use clamps or a vise to hold work in place. This frees both hands to operate the tool.

6. Buy a saw with a blade guard and don’t disable it. Before operating saws with guards, make sure they are in place and in proper working order. Kevin’s father-in-law was a master brickmason. To increase productivity, he wired the blade guard on his circular saw in the open position. Production increased until the day he set the still-running saw in his lap.

7. Prevent against kickback. If a saw blade begins to bind, immediately stop the cut and hold the saw and work piece completely still. Wait for the saw blade to stop before pulling away from a cut.

8. Discard saw blades that are chipped, bent or in any way damaged.

9. Never leave an active power tool unattended. Unplug power tools before leaving the room and store them out of children’s reach.

10. Remove all jewelry before using power tools.

If you are thinking of selling your Lake Tahoe home and would like advice on what you can do to improve your home, maximize its marketability and curb appeal in order to get the highest value for it, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Happy home improving!

As always, please feel free to contact Mackenzie with your individual/specific questions regarding your South Lake Tahoe home!

Search ALL Lake Tahoe Homes by visiting www.MakeTahoeMine.com or Google “Make Tahoe Mine”

Things Are Heating Up!

The weather is heating up and so is the Lake Tahoe real estate market!

First quarter numbers are almost in and with them may come the conclusion that prices have only a little further down to go before we see stabilization.

While we certainly can’t predict the future, we can look at the data and see that prices are not moving much lately.  With incredibly low interest rates and creative FHA loans that offer Buyers the opportunity to come in with as low as 3.5% down, properties are moving off the market almost as quickly as they are coming on the market, especially under $300,000 and when priced at market value.

Multiple offer situations are becoming increasingly popular among those homes that are more aggressively priced.  Buyers wanting to get in on the very best deals should be prepared to compete.  If you find yourself in a competing offer situation, here are some tips you may want to consider in order to give yourself the best shot at getting your offer accepted…

  • Get pre-approved by a lender so that you know what you qualify for, be sure to ask your lender to provide you with an estimate of what your closing costs will be so that there are fewer surprises when it comes time to close escrow. Knowing how much money you will need to bring to the table is critical in knowing what you can realistically afford.
  • Copy of your pre-approval letter on hand and have your agent submit it with your offer so that the Seller can see you are already qualified to buy their property.
  • Copy of your proof of funds – be able to show where your down-payment money and closing costs are coming from, i.e. a bank statement, letter from your bank verifying available funds, etc. and provide this along with your pre-approval letter.
  • Copy of your deposit/earnest money check – typically one percet of the offer price, i.e. an offer of $300,000, your deposit amount should be around $3,000.
  • In the offer, be willing to offer to increase your deposit once you remove all of your contingency as extra good faith to the seller.
  • Have a reasonable escrow time, if you are paying cash, offer to do a 30 day escrow. If you are getting a loan to purchase, realistically the shortest escrow time would be 45 days.
  • Offer a shorter investigation period. Standard purchase agreements (Offers) usually suggest 17 days, be willing to complete investigations/inspections in 10-12 days.

As always, please feel free to contact Mackenzie with your individual/specific questions regarding your South Lake Tahoe home!

Search ALL Lake Tahoe Homes by visiting www.MakeTahoeMine.com or Google “Make Tahoe Mine”

HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) Program Extended Through June 30, 2012

HARP – Home Affordable Refinance Program,  recently announced that they will stay in business through June 30, 2012 and Freddie Mac will exempt the re-financings from recently announced price increases, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in announcing the one-year extension.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to refinance qualifying borrowers who have lost equity in their home without requiring additional mortgage insurance for another year under the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP.

If you think you may qualify for this program, you may want to act soon. Qualifying requires the submission of lots of paperwork and can be a time consuming process.

Too, not all homeowners will qualify, there are several measures that are used to determine eligibility for the program, below is a list provided by the HARP website:

Eligibility*

You may be eligible to apply if you meet all of the following:

  • You have a mortgage owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • You do not have an FHA, VA or USDA loan.
  • You are current on your mortgage payments and have not been more than 30 days late making a payment over the last year.
  • You owe more than the home is worth, but your mortgage does not exceed 125 percent of the current market value of your home.
  • The refinance will improve the long-term affordability or stability of your mortgage.
  • You have the ability to make the new payments.

*Eligibility criteria are for guidance only. Contact your mortgage servicer to see if you qualify for HARP.

Re: Inman News, Monday, March 14, 2011 and http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov

Inman News™

As always, please feel free to contact Mackenzie with your individual/specific questions regarding your South Lake Tahoe home!

Search ALL Lake Tahoe Homes by visiting www.MakeTahoeMine.com or Google “Make Tahoe Mine”

Spring Skiing

The weekend was full of smiles around South Lake Tahoe as skiers embraced Mother Nature’s most recent gift of snow storms.  Spring skiing is undoubtedly spectacular and the conditions more like those you might expect/want to see in January.

While the weather is supposed to warm up some this week with temperatures more spring like, there’s no doubt that with all the new snow many of you will continue to take to the slopes.  If you do plan to take advantage of the spectacular Lake Tahoe spring skiing, please keep in mind some of the following spring skiing tips…

Safety Tips for Spring Skiers and Snowboarders

By Elizabeth Quinn, About.com Guide  March 25, 2011
As always, please feel free to contact Mackenzie with your individual/specific questions regarding your South Lake Tahoe home!

Search ALL Lake Tahoe Homes by visiting www.MakeTahoeMine.com or Google “Make Tahoe Mine”

Montgomery Estates Neighborhood Profile

MONTGOMERY ESTATES

“The Best of Both Worlds … A Central Location With a True Sense of Being in the Mountains!”

  • Cold Creek
  • High Meadows
  • Meadow Lakes
  • Kokanee Estates
  • Golden Bear

Montgomery Estates, made up of the five above areas is one of South Lake Tahoe’s most central locations and includes a consistent blend of nice to luxury homes. This area provides easy access to both Pioneer Trail and Hwy 50, so you are literally only 5-10 minutes from skiing, shopping, boating, beaches and restaurants, yet you feel like you have truly escaped to the mountains given its many acres of nearby USFS land, fresh water creeks, ponds, boulder studded parcels and views of Mt Tallac.  From streets like Cornice Court, Lupine Trail, High Meadow Trail, Cold Creek Trail and Del Norte Street, there are even opportunities to have a view of Lake Tahoe itself!

Prices range from $300,000 – $1,000,000+ with the average price being around $500,000.

The average size home for the area is approximately 2,500 sqft making it a popular area for full time families and vacation rentals because there are usually 3+ bedrooms to comfortably accommodate small groups. Too, for year round residence, there’s the added convenience of being a short walk from Sierra House Elementary School.

If hiking and biking peak your interest, there are many trail heads, taking you to destinations like Star Lake, the Power Line Trail and Heavenly Valley.

Similar areas in terms of overall feeling…Heavenly Valley, Country Club Estates, Tahoe Mountain and Echo View Estates.

As always, please feel free to contact Mackenzie with your individual/specific questions regarding your South Lake Tahoe home!

Search ALL Lake Tahoe Homes by visiting www.MakeTahoeMine.com or Google “Make Tahoe Mine”

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